Skip to main content

ESA files lawsuit against unfair advertising rule

Transit authority compares videogame ads to ones for alcohol and tobacco

The US Entertainment Software Association has filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Transit Authority claiming it is violating free speech laws by disallowing videogame advertisements for games rated Mature 17+ and above on its trains and buses.

It's a clear violation, says Michael D Gallagher, CEO of the ESA, since courts across the US have consistently ruled that videogames are entitled to the same First Amendment protections as other forms of entertainment.

"The CTA appears unwilling to recognise this established fact and has shown a remarkable ignorance of the dynamism, creativity and expressive nature of computer and videogames," he stated. "The ESA will not sit idly by when the creative freedoms of our industry are threatened."

If endorsed, the CTA's rule would mean a Resident Evil film could be advertised, but not a Resident Evil game, since its stipulations only apply to mature-rated videogames and not films - a situation that the ESA says clearly discriminates "on the basis of a viewpoint."

However, a CTA spokesperson told the New York Times the organisation believes "our ordinance is defensible."

"CTA does not allow ads for alcohol or tobacco products and this ordinance is consistent with that longstanding policy," she said.

In the eyes of the ESA however, this stance is unfairly and unnecessary as well, since game-related marketing is already subject to strict regulation from the Entertainment Software Rating Board's Advertising Review Council (ARC), which decides if advertisements are suitable to be seen by the general public.

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, charges the CTA with unfairly targeting the entertainment software industry by enacting an ordinance that selectively bans advertisements of computer and videogames rated Mature 17+ or Adults Only 18+.

Read this next

Related topics